Photo: Oooo the concentration! Don’t you just love the intensity?
Ursa Minor had a Boy Scouts meeting yesterday and The Husband didn’t want to take Major. Major, it would seem, gets bored at the “little kid” meetings and therefore gets squirmy and distracting. I absolutely adore Boy Scouts because The Husband manages all of it and usually takes both of the boys out. I can usually count on one evening a week when the boys will be out of the house. It’s a very small price to pay to have dinner done about 45 minutes earlier than usual to make it happen.
So Minor left the house, leaving me and Major. I’m not going to lie, we both looked at each other like we were strangers.
There was very little time for me and Ursa Major. I feel like he was just settling into existence and I was just hitting my motherhood stride when the universe decided we needed another baby. I feel as though Major knew before I did. Worse off, I always wonder if he has felt a little betrayed by it all. He has never directly expressed any resentment in so many words. I always feel like he is holding back. I wonder if I’ll ever know the full depth of who he is. Perhaps it’s my guilty conscious and my many regrets.
House empty and quiet, Major looked at me with a brightness on his face. “So? What are we going to do?”
Uh… “I’ve gotta put the laundry away…”
I suuuuck. But it needed to happen! Piles and piles of laundry languished in baskets at the foot of my bed. They had to be put away! There wasn’t anything to be done!
I’ve gotta give the kid credit: he made a space for himself on the big bed, watched a little Craig of the Creek with me, and kept me company while I slowly made my way through the mountains.
When it was done, he gave me a soft, expectant smile. “What do we do now?”
When it’s me and Ursa Minor, he never stops talking or demanding. Ursa Minor knows exactly what he wants and he has absolutely no flexibility at all. It was weird to have Major look at me with patient expectation. I gazed back and felt awkward, trying to figure out the trick. I rattled off a few ideas and he liked them all. “Sure, we can do that,” he kept saying. What? No pushback at all?
We decided on a board game. Frankly, board games are not my favorite thing in the world, but Ursa Major absolutely loves them. He has yet to meet one that he doesn’t like. He especially loves the strategy games, which is going to be fantastic for The Husband when he gets just a little older and can start playing Risk or Settlers of Catan. I can see the table setup in the basement now…
We settled on a game of chess. Usually Major plays the computer on his tablet, so he was excited when that’s what I offered. He took out the board and the pieces, then paused, looking up at me: “Do you need me to teach you?”
Boy, no. Stop assuming I don’t know anything. I really don’t know why he does that!
He blinked with surprise, but seemed to be relieved. “Oh, ok.”
The game went as you would expect it to go. It didn’t take me long to beat him. He had questions about which pieces could “jump” other pieces. We talked a lot about which pieces are important and which ones can go away and not be terribly missed. I enjoyed his quiet curiosity and his ease. He listened when I spoke, he asked follow-up questions, he learned a few things about rooks and bishops. I saw his father in him, but I saw a bit of myself, too. I love the way he looks at the board and his understanding of the relationships between all the pieces.
The Husband and Minor returned from Scouts earlier than expected. Minor came bounding up the porch steps and then pounded on the front door. “[Major]! Hey [Major!] I’m back! I’ve got a balloon that looks like the Hindenburg!”
Major and I didn’t move for a moment. We just looked at each other and the board, the disappointment registered on both of our faces. I regretted the laundry. I wanted more time. I’m not sure what Major was thinking about. He was the one who got up and got the door. Before I knew it, both of the boys were in the living room bounding around a funky-shaped balloon that they decided was the Hindenburg.
Before heading upstairs for bedtime routine, Major gave me a big hug and a kiss. “Thank you for hanging out with me,” I told him.
“Can I stay home from little kid Scouts from now on and play with you?”
“You want to?”
“Sure! I like being with you!”
I doubt he could have said anything that could have made me happier. I squeezed him tight and sent him to bed.
I’m not sure when the next time I’ll get a Scouts meeting that Major can skip. This was a strong reminder that I should spend more 1-on-1 time with Major. It’s hard to separate the brothers–they do well together. But what I was reminded of last night is that Major is a different person, and a pretty cool one at that, when he has the space and time to be himself without his little brother watching. It’s going to be hard to carve out more space for this, but I will have to. It would seem that we both need it.
Is it really only Wednesday, Dear Reader? Lord… this week is beating me up. But I’m still in the fight. Are you, Dear Reader? I hope so.
I’ll see you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.